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under a Protectorate proclaimed but never defined, and driven to rely mainly on Martial Law for carrying on administration and legislation, are rapidly becoming intolerable to Egyptians and Englishmen alike, as well as to the large foreign communities which, now that the Powers have recognised our status in Egypt, have a better claim than ever to look to us for the maintenance of orderly government.
I ventured, before I left Egypt, to publish as the result of my own observations a few rudimentary suggestions for a solution that should give reasonable satisfaction to Egyptian political aspirations and restore confidence in our good will and good faith without endangering the foundations of national prosperity and individual freedom which, for the first time in her history, at least since the Pharaonic age, Egypt owes to British intervention and British control. My readers, however, will probably be already in possession, of the recommendations of the Milner Commission, which naturally has had at its disposal far more abundant materials than can be available to any non-official inquirer. But whatever its recommendations —and I do not profess to be acquainted with them—it will, I feel confident, bear me out in testifying to the urgency as well as to the possibility of finding an issue from a deadlock as damaging to our own reputation as to the well-being of Egypt.
The Oriental mind is hard to read, and even Sir Alfred Lyall, who read it with more understanding than most men, used to say that the older he grew the less inclined he was to dogmatise about it. It is never harder to read than when it has begun, as to-day in Egypt, to seek expression in terms of the West. It was in Egypt that, forty-four years ago, I first felt the fascination of the East. I saw the last years of the Khedive Ismail's evil reign. I was afterwards an eye-witness of Arabi's revolt and of the British Occupation. I have often returned to Egypt since then, and I have known most of the chief actors on the Egyptian stage, and enjoyeda bold and generous